Postcard from Budapest, Hungary: Signs of the times

Let the photo below of the former “Bazar” serve as an example from a time when signage was approached as artistic embellishment.

From a distance, the banners on the Opera House above appear a major detriment to its majestic architectural integrity. But at least they are removable. And, when you examine the second tier banner in the close-up shot, the comic strip-like advertising might just be a brilliant way to market opera to a new generation. The other series of seven posters with stars in more traditional poses appears downright stuffy by comparison.

The double-d-cupped model for Intimissimi mars another architectural gem, from a woman’s point of view, but it does have the excuse of promoting lingerie. On the other hand, Coca-Cola’s “Taste the Feeling” is offensive to women on so many levels.

The advertisement depicting Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros as a puppeteer reflects current political contests in Hungary. This spring, thousands of students marched to Parliament to protest laws targeting Soros’ Central European University, and, this week, Andras Gergely reported for Bloomberg News:

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told lawmakers from his Fidesz party that fighting against what he sees as the agenda of billionaire financier George Soros will be the key campaign theme ahead of next year’s general elections, a news website reported.

Orban has already been facing charges from Jewish groups that he stoked anti-Semitism with a billboard campaign that targeted the investor and philanthropist this year. While the government has repeatedly denied that charge, it has kept up its rhetoric, saying Soros was undermining Hungary’s security by inducing migration toward Europe.

The government plans to hold a “national consultation” with voters to survey their views on what it calls the “Soros plan” on migration, Orban told lawmakers in a closed-door meeting, Origo news website said late on Wednesday. The premier said his chances for reelection to a third consecutive term in the spring hinge on whether the “Soros plan” fails, the publication close to the ruling party reported.

Orban’s government has also clashed with the U.S. and the European Commission over legislation targeting non-governmental organizations and a university funded by Soros. The laws were steps in Orban’s push to prevent what he calls foreign meddling in political matters by civil groups and institutions, in line with his model of the “illiberal state.”

The random signs brandishing exclamation points to indicate the importance of their warnings went unheeded by us. We were clueless. After a month, we still remained completely ignorant of the meaning of virtually any Hungarian word. Fortunately, the Kakastoke Porkolt sign was much friendlier about translating its warning that the stand’s star product was rooster testicles stew. No exclamation point needed to send us on our way.

Emperor Franz Josef is thrown in here purely because every time we saw the posters of him we felt as though we were staring at Jim LaVilla-Havelin. As I could find no email address for the San Antonio poet online, maybe someone who stumbles across this blog can forward it to him.

Postcard from Budapest, Hungary: When cats fly and other flights of fancy

As we wandered rooted to the ground, so many winged creatures hovered above us.

The raven symbolic of King Matthias Corvinus. Angels, cherubs and griffins galore.

Warlike eagles. The falconer so grim he appears ready to man a guillotine.

Fantastical animals derived from their creators’ nightmares.

A contemporary breasted owl suspended above giant lips is no more whimsical than a centuries-old Icarus-type figure bearing the soles of a saint.

 

Postcard from Budapest, Hungary: Elevated artistry for heating a home

Tile stoves were favored for home heating in Hungary since medieval times, with the radiant heat stored by fired clay capable of keeping things surprisingly toasty.

Aristocrats commissioned fancier tilework than the common folk. Most of the tiles featured here are from the Hungarian History Museum, also known as the Castle Museum, and originally were used in the royal palace itself.

The 15th-century stove with jousting knights was reconstructed from surviving pieces. The fish-helmeted knight above appears poised to be speared.

The blue tile stove housed in the Hungarian National Museum dates from the 17th century.

While not as aristocratic as the palace’s tile stoves, we once had a handsome, upright Godin stove we employed to warm up our home in the Monte Vista Historic District years ago. One small load of wood would last all day in the efficient parlor stove. The outer walls grew fiery hot, and we used it on cold days until about 29 years ago when our Niña suddenly darted straight toward it and placed both hands flat against it.

After the return from the emergency room, the Godin was retired from service.